Yesterday we had a new calf born on the farm. Sprinkles had her little girl calf, #72. Miguel came and got me and said the calf looked weak and asked if I wanted to go look. I was neck deep in trying to talk to new farmers but critters come first. Fortunately I had a few minutes and Lucy was working the store so I didn’t have to worry about that. We went out to see the calf and she was laying down, and laying kinda oddly. After getting her up I noted that she was pretty wobbly and walking oddly on her hind legs. She also didn’t seem to be paying mom any mind. Nor was mom paying her any attention. We got the calf up and took her over to mom. Unfortunately she tried to nurse another mom beside Sprinkles and got kicked for her efforts and knocked to the ground. We separated Sprinkles and this calf to give them a chance to get some nursing going and neither had much interest in the other.
Ok, back to the barn to grab a gallon of pet milk out of the fridge. Miguel dug out the nursing bottle and Lucy and Ru jumped into action as well. I boiled some water, Lucy cleaned the bottle up and microwaved the milk to get it sorta warm. I grabbed the stainless bucket, took the now clean bottle and nipple from Lucy, added the warm milk, then filled the stainless bucket with hot water, and dropped the bottle of milk in the hot water. This takes the milk from sorta warm to momma cow hot without cooking the milk. (Thanks dad for teaching me this).
Lucy, Ru, and I went back out to the pasture to find #72 and spent the next 15 minutes looking for a calf that was laying right in front of us in a small patch of tall grass. Once we found the calf, I got her up, popped her head between my legs, and started trying to get her to figure out that drinking was a good idea. Sometimes this takes hours, sometimes days. All the calf knows is some monster has her head in a vice and is shoving things in her mouth. All she wants to do is get away, not take a drink. With this little girl, it took about three minutes.
After a bit of wrangling and fighting, she finally took a drink. After the first pull, she had the idea and went to town. After about 5 minutes of drinking, she’d unfortunately only gotten a little bit of the milk. That was when Lucy pointed out this was a new nipple and the hole is pretty small. I quickly cut it bigger and popped the nipple back into the still struggling calf’s mouth. This time she really went to town and got about half of the bottle in her. After this, we let her go to see if she’d go to mom, or go find shade. She trundled off to find shade and we left them both alone for the night.
We have to see #72 nurse from mom today. If that doesn’t happen, we will have to put Sprinkles in the head gate and milk her to get colostrum. Then we’ll bottle feed it to #72. At that point, we’ll probably have a bottle calf hanging around here. They are super cute, and super a pain in the butt so I’m really hoping that she’s nursing on her own when we get out there today. Not to mention hand milking a pissed off beef cow isn’t the easiest thing to do. I’m really not looking forward to that.